Writing is just writing.
Just words on a page. A past-time, a hobby, a day-job for some.
Writing is a life skill. The lessons you learn in being a writer translate into almost every aspect of your life. They become the foundations of everything that you do and influence how you approach and perceive daily obstacles.
So, what are some of these essential life skills?
They say that good writing comes down to good waiting. I didn’t know this my first time around. I didn’t realise that patience was a virtue that would test every perspective of my own writing. After you write anything, a chapter or a full manuscript, wait until you can see it with fresh eyes.
I thought this was an awful waste of my time. Every minute my fingers were away from the keyboard and pen they would itch. All this sitting around, with no contribution to my writing. I would get frustrated, only last a few months, but of course, that wasn’t nearly enough time. When Stephen King finishes a draft, he locks it away in his drawer for at least six weeks before going through and editing. The longer you wait, the better the insight. You need to forget everything you’ve ever written in the manuscript so that you can critic it like an outsider.
Patience is not only a must for writing your manuscript. Getting published will take time too. And I mean a lot of time. First, there’s waiting for a publisher to agree to publish your work (which could take many many years). Then, you have to wait for the book to be edited professionally, marketed, the art cover to be decided etc. before it even makes the shelf. This usually takes up to two years. Then, if you are lucky enough to have your work published, you then have to wait for it to make a mark on the market if it ever does.
All of this waiting is the breeding spot for the next important skill…
Resilience and Rejection
Whether you accept it or not, your manuscript, especially if you are unpublished, is going to be rejected. A lot. Whether it’s because your writing and story just don’t cut it, or whether the publishers just aren’t looking for something of its calibre, the body of work that you’ve poured your heart and soul over countless gruelling hours is going to be rejected time and time again. What’s worse, you won’t even know the reasons it’s getting rejected, just a simple, identifying message of “thanks but no thanks” every time.
You’re going to think you’re a horrible writer, that you should just give up and resign to never having your name in print. But you shouldn’t and you won’t. You’ll get back on the horse, go in with a fresh mind and edit, edit, write and write. You’ll be patient, critical and do it all over again. That is the true marking of an accomplished author: the ability to bounce back from failure and rejection. That is what success is all about.
And it can be applied to anything that you face in your life and career, writing related or not.
Good writing isn’t a skill, it’s a habit. I’ve said that before. Apply yourself daily, weekly and monthly to your craft and the returns will be bountiful. I apply this to my whole life.
For me, and for many, life is split into good habits and bad habits. You have to hone the good ones, and gradually expunge the bad ones. It takes patience and resilience to successfully control your habits and pave your own way to success. And it gets easier as you go, curbing your old habits and sticking to new ones.
This is a simple one. Writing is a knowledgable pursuit. All that reading is going to pay off. All that research is going to sharpen your mind. You’re going to find it easier to hold a conversation because you’ll actually know what you’re talking about. Trivia nights will become just that little bit easier, with the general knowledge you’re slowly accumulating. Your brain will also find it easier to soak up new information, making it easier for you to understand new and difficult concepts and study.
All this reading also gives you great emotional knowledge. Authors pour their hearts and souls, their relationships and themselves in their works. They aren’t only giving you an entertaining read, but ways and insights in how to approach certain situations and relationships in your real everyday life.
Humble, Cautious Ambition
Being humble and being ambitious are not often words that are paired together. But this pairing perfectly describes the pursuits of an author. If you’re looking to earn the riches of authors such as J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, then reality will be swift and cruel. These examples are outliers to the real statistics. If you’re writing to be rich, quit now.
However, if you’re writing to get your name in print, to have your work recognised, and just have that self-satisfying feeling of accomplishing your dreams, then your ambition is a sound one. Writing is a humbling, transformative experience. The journey is hard, long and may not return a high financial reward. But it will make you wealthier in many other things than the material. Namely, these skills listed above.
If you possess these skills as an author than you possess the skills necessary to have a happy, resourceful and successful life.